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Featured Afghanistan Collapse Dissected: Key Reasons and Characters Involved in The Taliban Blitzkrieg

Reddington

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Note: I used to follow developments in Afghanistan occasionally, but ever since Biden’s announcement of withdrawal from Afghanistan; I had been observing Afghanistan situation regularly on social media thinking that the upcoming Taliban summer offensive might put ANDSF in a rather precarious situation as they would be deprived of US military/air support. Never could I have imagined, that I would be witnessing one of the most incredible guerrilla warfare campaigns in the modern times. Thought, I should write an article on PDF of what I had observed :)

This article is not any, whatsoever, celebration or endorsement of the Taliban. I have only tried to explain the facts.

In the last part of this article, I have tried to explain/speculate, my own observation/analysis/theory regarding the key catalyst that led to complete collapse of the Afghan Security Forces.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general and strategist, said about 2500 years ago, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting"
.

This ancient wisdom has been demonstrated recently in Afghanistan when Taliban executed their blitzkrieg which culminated in the capture of Kabul on 15th August. It was without a doubt one of the most incredible guerrilla campaigns in the modern times.

US military/intelligence officials believed back in May that, if worse comes to worst, the Afghan forces could still hold off the Taliban for at least a year. By June, they revised 1 year to 6 months. By July, 6 months were revised to 3 months and on August 10th, the US intelligence believed that Kabul would fall within 30 days. Just three days later, on August 13th, they believed that Kabul would fall within 72 hours. This time they were finally correct.

When Taliban launched their recent offensive on May 4th, starting from Helmand province, nobody thought that heavily armed Afghan National Defence Security Forces (ANDSF) along with Afghan Special Forces would simply melt away. Even as late as July when US B-52's were heavily bombing Taliban positions in Kandahar city (capital of Kandahar Province) and in Lashkar Gah (capital of Helmand Province), the Taliban’s ability to hold large cities was questioned and in fact it was thought that a stalemate had finally been reached between Taliban and ANDSF.

It took Taliban 9 days from capturing their first provincial capital Zarang of Nimroz province on August 6th to capturing Kabul on 15th August.

How Did the Collapse Happen?

There are many reasons and one of them is the Afghan army itself being the reason for collapse. ANDSF troops were being touted numbering 300,000 but that was nowhere to be seen. In fact, more than half of the Afghan army consisted of ghost soldiers. On top of that, most of Afghan people had no will to fight the Taliban. They had low morale on top of not being paid for months. They started cutting deals with the Taliban when Taliban would give them money in exchange for their surrender. They had the weapons but the will to fight the Taliban was not there in ANDSF.

Another reason is that Taliban wanted to avoid the mistake of 90's when Afghanistan was split in two parts with Taliban ruling over 90% of Afghanistan while the Northern Alliance ruling the North and getting help from bordering countries of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan etc. That's why, by early June when Afghan forces were expecting Taliban attacks in their strongholds in Southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand; Taliban started attacking North. By the end of June, the provincial capitals of Takhar, Badakhshan, Kunduz, Faryab, Jawzjan and Sara-e-Pul were surrounded as the Taliban had captured almost all of the districts in those provinces.


"War is nothing but a continuation of politics", Von Clausewitz in his book 'On War'

The Taliban were cutting deals as far back as two months ago on district level with the local officials through their relatives or through elders/influential people of the tribe. Those officials were either being paid off or being threatened with consequences. Biden's announcement of withdrawal and lack of US air power further demoralized the Afghan officials. Where deals failed the Taliban commenced their guerrilla campaigns.

Another reason behind Afghan forces capitulation is that the Taliban had entered their own men and supporters in Afghan forces who were most likely occupying some top positions. On top of that, the Taliban were negotiating deals with top Commanders of ANDSF which led to entire corps of Afghan Army surrendering to the Taliban and laying down their weapons without fighting.

This surrender happened at a lightning speed when on August 12th, the Afghan Army’s 205th Corps based in Kandahar city (capital of Kandahar Province), 215th Corps in Lashkar Gah and 207th Corps based in Herat city (capital of Herat Province) capitulated to the Taliban in just 1 day.

On August 14th, the Taliban were again on a roll when Afghan Army’s 203rd Corps based in Gardez (capital of Paktia province), 209th Corps in Mazar Sharif (capital of Balkh province) and 201st Corps based in Mihtarlam (capital of Laghman Province) surrendered to the Taliban and again in just 1 day. Basically, the entire Afghan Army succumbed to the Taliban in a span of 3 days.


Key Military Commanders Behind the Campaign

No doubt, the Taliban and their successful guerrilla campaign, will be spoken of in the same breath as Mao and Giap. This is a historical moment.

So, who were those military commanders responsible for this successful guerrilla campaign?

1) Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob

The son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, Yaqoob heads the military commission of the Taliban, second in command only to Taliban top leader in the Taliban hierarchy. He is said to be the one who oversees and plans the Taliban's military operations across entire Afghanistan.

2) Mullah Zakir

He was the former head of the Taliban military commission and is now the part of Taliban's military commission and is believed to be the Taliban top commander in the Southern provinces.

3) Qari Fasih ud Deen

The complete takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban would have been almost impossible if not for this man. He had been reported to have been killed via drone many times over the years but each time it turned out to be false. Back in early May, when US forces started their withdrawal, the Taliban made an unusual announcement that this man has been inducted into the military commission and is being made the top commander of the Northern Afghanistan; effectively giving him command over more than a dozen provinces in Northern Afghanistan. Many were surprised since it was the first time a non-Pashtun (Fasih is Tajik) has been given this much higher position in the Taliban hierarchy and that too, within the military commission.

1.jpg


Was Pakistan Behind the Taliban success?

When Taliban captured Kabul, many fanboys on the social media, electronic media started celebrating. Some were crediting Pak Army while social media was abuzz with the clips of Hameed Gul. On the other side, the USA, former Ghani regime officials, Indians along with their local pets here in the form of PTM also kept on blaming Pakistan for the Taliban campaign and kept scapegoating Pakistan for their own failures. The US has been unable to provide any proof of any sort of involvement of Pakistan helping Taliban in last 20 years.

The truth, I believe, lies in between. This is my own analysis btw. I could be wrong as well.

Pakistan did not help the Taliban militarily. However, our leadership did manage to break the ice between the former Northern Alliance leadership and the Taliban. They have been visiting Pakistan since last few years. They came to Pakistan last year. And they visited Pakistan the same day Kabul fell and are still here in Pakistan. Even so, our leadership never expected Taliban to capture entire Afghanistan and were surprised; they were expecting that after sometime a stalemate would be reached and Taliban would have to come to the negotiating table to avoid civil war.

Recently, the Taliban have announced that they will negotiate with all the "stakeholders" in Afghanistan.


Who struck the Deal with the Taliban in the North?

I personally believe that it was Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, son of Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of Jamiat-e-Islami and ex-Foreign Minister of Afghanistan. He is the one who is most likely to have cut a deal with the Taliban. He had dispute with Atta Noor, another Jamiat leader and warlord in Balkh province, for the Jamiat leadership and Ghani favoured Noor for Jamiat leadership instead of Rabbani.

Salahuddin_Rabbani.jpg


Mr. Rabbani remained quiet while Taliban were capturing the districts in the provinces left and right that fell under his militia's domain like Takhar, Badakhshan, Baghlan etc. He was nowhere to be found during that entire time. Didn't even bother to comment on the situation. His militias kept surrendering after some "playfighting" against the Taliban leaving ANDSF with no choice but to surrender as well. Without him striking a deal with the Taliban, Taliban could never have taken the entire North.

I don’t believe that it was just Mr. Rabbani alone that cut a deal with the Taliban. Other warlords were most likely involved as well like Ismael Khan in the Western province of Herat. But Rabbani is one of the key characters involved in the collapse of Ghani regime.

As a Pakistani, I just hope and pray that removal of Ghani regime, NDS and the Indian assets from Afghanistan finally makes our Western Border peaceful and secure again and we can once again turn our utmost attention to our Eastern Border.


Copyright 2021 © @Reddington


@Mangus Ortus Novem @Sine Nomine @Blacklight @Meengla
 

Meengla

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Pakistan's role should be downplayed in this! But it was THE pivotal role in the regain of the Taliban power so swiftly. Taliban would have won in the long term though.

About the OP, I think NY Times has a piece about how the Taliban quietly cultivated various warlords over the years using bribes, tribal elders, clergy and threat. And when they realized that America wasn't going to be there to support them, they wilted. Such switching of loyalties is a looooooooooooong Afghan tradition! Nothing new.

I think @FuturePAF should have some good input on this topic.
 

Blacklight

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Note: I used to follow developments in Afghanistan occasionally, but ever since Biden’s announcement of withdrawal from Afghanistan; I had been observing Afghanistan situation regularly on social media thinking that the upcoming Taliban summer offensive might put ANDSF in a rather precarious situation as they would be deprived of US military/air support. Never could I have imagined, that I would be witnessing one of the most incredible guerrilla warfare campaigns in the modern times. Thought, I should write an article on PDF of what I had observed :)

This article is not any, whatsoever, celebration or endorsement of the Taliban. I have only tried to explain the facts.

In the last part of this article, I have tried to explain/speculate, my own observation/analysis/theory regarding the key catalyst that led to complete collapse of the Afghan Security Forces.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general and strategist, said about 2500 years ago, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting"
.

This ancient wisdom has been demonstrated recently in Afghanistan when Taliban executed their blitzkrieg which culminated in the capture of Kabul on 15th August. It was without a doubt one of the most incredible guerrilla campaigns in the modern times.

US military/intelligence officials believed back in May that, if worse comes to worst, the Afghan forces could still hold off the Taliban for at least a year. By June, they revised 1 year to 6 months. By July, 6 months were revised to 3 months and on August 10th, the US intelligence believed that Kabul would fall within 30 days. Just three days later, on August 13th, they believed that Kabul would fall within 72 hours. This time they were finally correct.

When Taliban launched their recent offensive on May 4th, starting from Helmand province, nobody thought that heavily armed Afghan National Defence Security Forces (ANDSF) along with Afghan Special Forces would simply melt away. Even as late as July when US B-52's were heavily bombing Taliban positions in Kandahar city (capital of Kandahar Province) and in Lashkar Gah (capital of Helmand Province), the Taliban’s ability to hold large cities was questioned and in fact it was thought that a stalemate had finally been reached between Taliban and ANDSF.

It took Taliban 9 days from capturing their first provincial capital Zarang of Nimroz province on August 6th to capturing Kabul on 15th August.

How Did the Collapse Happen?

There are many reasons and one of them is the Afghan army itself being the reason for collapse. ANDSF troops were being touted numbering 300,000 but that was nowhere to be seen. In fact, more than half of the Afghan army consisted of ghost soldiers. On top of that, most of Afghan people had no will to fight the Taliban. They had low morale on top of not being paid for months. They started cutting deals with the Taliban when Taliban would give them money in exchange for their surrender. They had the weapons but the will to fight the Taliban was not there in ANDSF.

Another reason is that Taliban wanted to avoid the mistake of 90's when Afghanistan was split in two parts with Taliban ruling over 90% of Afghanistan while the Northern Alliance ruling the North and getting help from bordering countries of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan etc. That's why, by early June when Afghan forces were expecting Taliban attacks in their strongholds in Southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand; Taliban started attacking North. By the end of June, the provincial capitals of Takhar, Badakhshan, Kunduz, Faryab, Jawzjan and Sara-e-Pul were surrounded as the Taliban had captured almost all of the districts in those provinces.


"War is nothing but a continuation of politics", Von Clausewitz in his book 'On War'

The Taliban were cutting deals as far back as two months ago on district level with the local officials through their relatives or through elders/influential people of the tribe. Those officials were either being paid off or being threatened with consequences. Biden's announcement of withdrawal and lack of US air power further demoralized the Afghan officials. Where deals failed the Taliban commenced their guerrilla campaigns.

Another reason behind Afghan forces capitulation is that the Taliban had entered their own men and supporters in Afghan forces who were most likely occupying some top positions. On top of that, the Taliban were negotiating deals with top Commanders of ANDSF which led to entire corps of Afghan Army surrendering to the Taliban and laying down their weapons without fighting.

This surrender happened at a lightning speed when on August 12th, the Afghan Army’s 205th Corps based in Kandahar city (capital of Kandahar Province), 215th Corps in Lashkar Gah and 207th Corps based in Herat city (capital of Herat Province) capitulated to the Taliban in just 1 day.

On August 14th, the Taliban were again on a roll when Afghan Army’s 203rd Corps based in Gardez (capital of Paktia province), 209th Corps in Mazar Sharif (capital of Balkh province) and 201st Corps based in Mihtarlam (capital of Laghman Province) surrendered to the Taliban and again in just 1 day. Basically, the entire Afghan Army succumbed to the Taliban in a span of 3 days.


Key Military Commanders Behind the Campaign

No doubt, the Taliban and their successful guerrilla campaign, will be spoken of in the same breath as Mao and Giap. This is a historical moment.

So, who were those military commanders responsible for this successful guerrilla campaign?

1) Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob

The son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, Yaqoob heads the military commission of the Taliban, second in command only to Taliban top leader in the Taliban hierarchy. He is said to be the one who oversees and plans the Taliban's military operations across entire Afghanistan.

2) Mullah Zakir

He was the former head of the Taliban military commission and is now the part of Taliban's military commission and is believed to be the Taliban top commander in the Southern provinces.

3) Qari Fasih ud Deen

The complete takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban would have been almost impossible if not for this man. He had been reported to have been killed via drone many times over the years but each time it turned out to be false. Back in early May, when US forces started their withdrawal, the Taliban made an unusual announcement that this man has been inducted into the military commission and is being made the top commander of the Northern Afghanistan; effectively giving him command over more than a dozen provinces in Northern Afghanistan. Many were surprised since it was the first time a non-Pashtun (Fasih is Tajik) has been given this much higher position in the Taliban hierarchy and that too, within the military commission.

View attachment 770956

Was Pakistan Behind the Taliban success?

When Taliban captured Kabul, many fanboys on the social media, electronic media started celebrating. Some were crediting Pak Army while social media was abuzz with the clips of Hameed Gul. On the other side, the USA, former Ghani regime officials, Indians along with their local pets here in the form of PTM also kept on blaming Pakistan for the Taliban campaign and kept scapegoating Pakistan for their own failures. The US has been unable to provide any proof of any sort of involvement of Pakistan helping Taliban in last 20 years.

The truth, I believe, lies in between. This is my own analysis btw. I could be wrong as well.

Pakistan did not help the Taliban militarily. However, our leadership did manage to break the ice between the former Northern Alliance leadership and the Taliban. They have been visiting Pakistan since last few years. They came to Pakistan last year. And they visited Pakistan the same day Kabul fell and are still here in Pakistan. Even so, our leadership never expected Taliban to capture entire Afghanistan and were surprised; they were expecting that after sometime a stalemate would be reached and Taliban would have to come to the negotiating table to avoid civil war.

Recently, the Taliban have announced that they will negotiate with all the "stakeholders" in Afghanistan.


Who struck the Deal with the Taliban in the North?

I personally believe that it was Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, son of Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of Jamiat-e-Islami and ex-Foreign Minister of Afghanistan. He is the one who is most likely to have cut a deal with the Taliban. He had dispute with Atta Noor, another Jamiat leader and warlord in Balkh province, for the Jamiat leadership and Ghani favoured Noor for Jamiat leadership instead of Rabbani.

View attachment 770959

Mr. Rabbani remained quiet while Taliban were capturing the districts in the provinces left and right that fell under his militia's domain like Takhar, Badakhshan, Baghlan etc. He was nowhere to be found during that entire time. Didn't even bother to comment on the situation. His militias kept surrendering after some "playfighting" against the Taliban leaving ANDSF with no choice but to surrender as well. Without him striking a deal with the Taliban, Taliban could never have taken the entire North.

I don’t believe that it was just Mr. Rabbani alone that cut a deal with the Taliban. Other warlords were most likely involved as well like Ismael Khan in the Western province of Herat. But Rabbani is one of the key characters involved in the collapse of Ghani regime.

As a Pakistani, I just hope and pray that removal of Ghani regime, NDS and the Indian assets from Afghanistan finally makes our Western Border peaceful and secure again and we can once again turn our utmost attention to our Eastern Border.


Copyright 2021 © @Reddington


@Mangus Ortus Novem @Sine Nomine @Blacklight @Meengla
Where do you see Gulbadeen Hekmatyar in all of this?



@Jungibaaz @StormBreaker @Counter-Errorist @TsAr @aliyusuf @ali_raza @LeGenD @Chak Bamu @The Eagle @waz
Pls do join this thread, when you can.
 

nang2

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Interesting comment. No wonder someone said that Taliban's success is quite similar to how CCP swept China after WWII. The ruling party had an illusive view about the politics on the ground.
 

FuturePAF

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Pakistan's role should be downplayed in this! But it was THE pivotal role in the regain of the Taliban power so swiftly. Taliban would have won in the long term though.

About the OP, I think NY Times has a piece about how the Taliban quietly cultivated various warlords over the years using bribes, tribal elders, clergy and threat. And when they realized that America wasn't going to be there to support them, they wilted. Such switching of loyalties is a looooooooooooong Afghan tradition! Nothing new.

I think @FuturePAF should have some good input on this topic.
Thanks @Meengla
From the recent interviews, it also appears Some of the Taliban worked in US NGO organizations or Afghan gov. in Afghanistan during the day and were Talibs by night. Classic guerrilla tactics. They knew there adversary from the inside out while the US intel agencies were navel gazing more than ever. I have said in an earlier thread, the best way to understand the Talibs in a US context would be to think of them like “Mormon Hillbillies” like religious preppers.
 

Meengla

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I have said in an earlier thread, the best way to understand the Talibs in a US context would be to think of them like “Mormon Hillbillies” like religious preppers.
Dang! You sure do know a lot about America!!!
 

FuturePAF

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Dang! You sure do know a lot about America!!!
PBS documentaries, YouTube, reading random subjects :) Also talking to anyone and everyone (when I use to travel all over America)

A good Netflix series to watch to see what I think a US equivalent to the Taliban is the militia in Manhunt: Deadly Games.

to paraphrase Imran Khan’s explain action that they are just civilians; basically the Talibs are “Bubbas”

 
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Falconless

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Interesting comment. No wonder someone said that Taliban's success is quite similar to how CCP swept China after WWII. The ruling party had an illusive view about the politics on the ground.
The CCP was not allowed to contest in the 1947 general elections of China, the same way how the Taliban weren’t allowed in the recent Afghan elections, making the leaders illegitimate in the eyes of many.

To add icing on the cake,both Ching Kai Shek and Ashraf Ghani were stubborn and unwilling to compromise for the sake of the people.
 

CrazyZ

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Reports from reporters embedded with the ANA are coming out. Basically ANA set up a defense......would get overwhelmed by the Taliban offensive. Regular ANA would start giving up to the Taliban....handing over weapons and walking off. Then the elite special forces would be left out numbered and surrounded by the Taliban....their commanders would then deal with the Taliban. Agreeing to abandon their vehicles, heavy equipment, and weapons in exchange for being allowed to retreat unharmed. This would be repeated in city after city....until the only place left to retreat was into neighboring countries or American transports at Kabul Airport. Afghan Air force was crippled after some critical airbase losses and became a non factor in the closing stages of the war.

This is what happens when you put delusional morans in charge with no tactical or strategic sense and loyalties only to themselves and RAW. Add in the systemic corruption and result was a disaster.
 

nang2

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The CCP was not allowed to contest in the 1947 general elections of China, the same way how the Taliban weren’t allowed in the recent Afghan elections, making the leaders illegitimate in the eyes of many.

To add icing on the cake,both Ching Kai Shek and Ashraf Ghani were stubborn and unwilling to compromise for the sake of the people.
"Not allowed" may be too strong a word. Not sure what Taliban was asking for. CCP was asking for veto power, which Ching Kai Shek didn't want to grant. So, they were allowed but not to their satisfaction.
 

Falconless

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"Not allowed" may be too strong a word. Not sure what Taliban was asking for. CCP was asking for veto power, which Ching Kai Shek didn't want to grant. So, they were allowed but not to their satisfaction.
The CCP were treated like insurgents instead of a political party, had they been allowed to participate in the 1947 elections and the elections were free and fair. It wouldn’t be unimaginable to see the Republic continuing on the mainland.
 

nang2

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The CCP were treated like insurgents instead of a political party, had they been allowed to participate in the 1947 elections and the elections were free and fair. It wouldn’t be unimaginable to see the Republic continuing on the mainland.
There was negotiation between CCP and Ching Kai Shek. After that negotiation fell apart, of course CCP would be treated like insurgents since it refused to be a part of the government.
 

Falconless

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There was negotiation between CCP and Ching Kai Shek. After that negotiation fell apart, of course CCP would be treated like insurgents since it refused to be a part of the government.
Had the CCP been allowed to take part in the 1947 elections they wouldn’t be fighting an insurgency post war.

Plus the Soviet’s handing over Chinese territories they liberated from the Japanese to the CCP instead of the Chinese government only added fuel to the fire, it’s said that if this didn’t happen the Battle Hardened Chinese Army would have destroyed the CCP.
 

nang2

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Had the CCP been allowed to take part in the 1947 elections they wouldn’t be fighting an insurgency…
It is hard to say. After all, what-ifs don't work with history. It might as well be that both sides wanted to fight so they asked for something that the other side would surly reject. In this way, they could blame the other side for the fallout of the negotiation to enhance their own propaganda.
 

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